UN to provide Philippines names of rapporteur to probe alleged killings: Roque
The United Nations will submit to the Philippine government the list of possible rapporteur who could be allowed to conduct an investigation on the alleged extrajudicial killings in the country, Malacanang said on Thursday.
This was after the Duterte administration has banned Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, from entering the country as a rapporteur.
" Well you know the last word that I had with the SFA ( Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano) in this regard is, apparently the UN Secretary General said that they will be proposing names. We’re awaiting the names....(of) possible rapporteur," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a press briefing.
He recalled that when Callamard visited the Philippines uninvited last year, she "made her conclusions as if she already conducted an investigation."
Callamard arrived in the country in May 2017 when she was invited in a forum at the University of the Philippines.
During her trip, she claimed that President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs does not work as she hailed those groups who have been opposing the bloody tactics of the administration.
Roque earlier said he has someone in mind who could be trustworthy and could conduct an investigation in the country.
Pressed to name the person whom he was planning to recommend, Roque said, "Well, I withheld my recommendation when I found out that there was already communication between the UN SecGen himself and our Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Let’s await the list of possible names to be given by the UN Secretary General."
Recently, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein slammed Duterte's order to the police and the military not to cooperate with the human rights group or any rapporteur who would come to the Philippines to investigate on the alleged human rights violations amid the war on drugs.
Roque said the Palace was not disputing that the government has the obligation to ensure the protection of human rights.
But Roque insisted the UN Human Rights Council should not disregard the Philippine sovereignty.
"Maybe it could take time before the wound heals as a result of what Callamard did," he said, noting that the UN rapporteur came to the country when the government was in the process of negotiating her investigation.
"So this is what happens when the UN Human Rights Council does something that would cause member-state of the UN to lose trust in some of its rapporteurs," he said.
"It’s a two-way street ? the entire human rights mechanism of the UN is built around sovereignty, and it will not work if rapporteurs become untrustworthy as far as sovereign states are concerned," Roque added.
Hussein also raised concern over what he called as "deepening repression and increasing threats to individuals and groups with independent or dissenting views," such as opposition senators, current and former public officials, the Commission on Human Rights, human rights defenders and journalists.
He also cited the impeachment or dismissal cases against members of the Suprem Court, the Office of the Ombudsman and the "arbitrary detention" of Senator Leila de Lima.
Roque said the Philippines could have a different legal system compared to Jordan, which is Hussein's country.
"But in the Philippines, the judicial branch of government is independent and no one ? not the executive, not the legislature ? should intervene. So Your Excellency, I do not know what kind of a system that you have in Jordan, but in our system we respect the independence of the Judiciary; we will allow the judiciary to proceed and decide on the case of Leila De Lima. And I’m sorry if our legal system is vastly different from your legal system in Jordan," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS